Saturday, March 13, 2010

West Virginia Playing For A 1 Seed Tonight?

#6 West Virginia 53, Notre Dame 51
West Virginia continues to just barely pull out victories, with two in the Big East tournament now coming down to the final possession. Da'Sean Butler hit a miracle on Thursday night, and on Friday night it was Tory Jackson missing a final chance for the Irish. Notre Dame did manage to enforce that painfully slow tempo that has served this well the past couple of weeks, but West Virginia's superior athleticism allowed them to score nearly at will when they attacked the basket. If they could have hit an outside shot (they were 3-for-19 for the game) this one wouldn't even have been close, because the Mountaineers shot 75% (18-for-24) on two-pointers. Da'Sean Butler led the way again, but Devin Ebanks and Kevin Jones also were able to torch the slower Notre Dame interior defenders. Only some hot shooting from Ben Hansbrough (4-for-7 behind the arc) kept this one close to the finish. For West Virginia they get a chance to play for a 1 seed tonight. If they can win then they'll certainly be in the discussion for a 1 seed no matter what happens, although they could get some very good news today because as I type this Duke is down by three points at the half to Miami. West Virginia also needs to root for Kansas State to lose to Kansas tonight, and for Ohio State and Purdue to fall as well. As for Notre Dame, their Big East tournament performance locks them into the NCAA Tournament. They finish 12-8 against the RPI Top 100 with an ELO_CHESS of 35th. They're looking at a seed in the 8-11 range.

NC State 58, Florida State 52
Florida State has arguably the best defense in the country, and they are absolutely suffocating inside with their length and athleticism, but if you can shoot over the top of them then you can score. And you don't need to score much against Florida State, because their offense is terrible. NC State's 7-for-15 shooting behind the arc was enough for the win here. The loss is a tough one for Florida State, although pretty much all of their losses are tough ones, because it seems like every game they play in has a score like 56-53. But they are still locked into the NCAA Tournament with a 10-9 record against the RPI Top 100 including wins over Wake Forest, Marquette and Georgia Tech (twice), and zero losses against the RPI 95+. Their RPI is 41st and their ELO_CHESS is 34th. They're most likely looking at a 7-9 seed. As for NC State, they can not earn an at-large bid, but the path is now wide open for an automatic bid with all of the upsets in the ACC quarterfinals. It seems like NC State has done this quite a few times over the last 10-15 years, where they stink all season long and then make a run in the ACC tournament. They will play Georgia Tech later this afternoon (certainly an easier opponent than Maryland would have been), and then will have to hope that Miami pulls off the upset of Duke to make the ACC championship game an easier one.

Washington 79, Stanford 64
Washington has shown flashes of being a really good team this season, which is why I've constantly been talking them up and waiting for big things from them. And they certainly have played well down the stretch of this season, and basically blew Stanford off the court here. The final score was only 15 points, but other than the opening minutes of the game it never seemed like Stanford even had a chance. For Washington this is a win they needed to have, but they would have prefered the win here came against Arizona State, the team that Stanford knocked off in the Pac-10 quarterfinals. And so now Washington will have to play the Pac-10 title game this evening against California knowing that a loss could send them to the NIT. They are 7-5 against the RPI Top 100, but that's deceptive with only two wins against the RPI Top 60 (Texas A&M and California), and four RPI 100+ losses (Oregon, UCLA and twice against USC). This win over Stanford pushes their RPI up inside the Top 50, to 49th, but their ELO_CHESS is still 53rd, and it's rare for a team outside the ELO_CHESS Top 50 to earn an at-large (on average it happens for about one team per season). Washington's players need to treat the game today as a game that they need to have, because they'll be in a lot of trouble if they fall, particularly with the Houston automatic bid earlier today.

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